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Radcliffe's New Council


The Radcliffe College Council will consider a new Radcliffe student government--the Radcliffe Union of Students--at its meeting today.

Mrs. Bunting will recommend that the Council endorse RUS provisionally, that it recommend proceeding with the elections for RUS officers, and that those officers should then prepare a final draft of the constitution to be voted on by the Council later. The Council should approve of these recommendations.

There are imperfections in the RUS constitution, but they are minor, and they can be cleared up later. As Mrs. Bunting points out the Council cannot deal with the most controversial issue raised by RUS--student representation on the Council. That matter must be taken up by the elected officers of RUS and the Board of Trustees. The Council should speed the discussion on its way; the Council's final endorsement can come later. The Council should now hasten the process by which administration and students can come to an agreement on the kind of student government each wants for Radcliffe.

Members of the council must realize that how an inquiry is conducted may well prove more important, in the long run, than the points that are raised in passing. It is incredible that any members should wish to avoid a public hearing of the views they express to the council, its steering committee, or any of its subcommittees. The council cannot set a healthy tone for University-wide discussion by beginning its own in secrecy.

The council's task in organizing itself and gaining a wide base of support has not been made any easier by Dean Ford's gratuitous decision to ban from membership students who are on probation. The unfortunate result was that the Advisory Council's first order of business was a trivial discussion of whether a duly elected student representative should be seated.

The deans have wide discretion in applying the terms of disciplinary action; Ford chose to interpret College rules in such a way that John Fouts '69, the student representative from Dudley House, may be barred from the council.

Ford, it should be noted, conveniently forgot another strict interpretation of University rules in order to set up the Advisory Council in the first place. When students earlier this year were demanding a joint student-faculty committee to consider parietal rules, he replied that such a committee could not be formed without the consent of the Corporation. That committee he opposed; he thought the Advisoiry Council a fine idea, and it was set up without so much as a nod to the Corporation. It is ironic that his inflexibility in determining its membership should be making life a little harder for it.

Students on probation should never have been discouraged from running for the Council. It is questionable, at the time action was taken against them and the council was first suggested, whether the Faculty realized that probated students could be barred from membership. More important, the ability of the Council to appeal to all members of the community to participate in discussions is severely undermined if any at all are to be prohibited from seeking elective positions on the council.

The Advisory Council has judiciously decided to invite Fouts to its meetings and to ask the Faculty to make him an exception to Ford's dictum. The Faculty should assent.

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